Apologies in advance, I have no tub to thump, and no wish to anger today’s opponents, call me a superstitious pansy but I am beginning to see a pattern….the more incendiary the pre match the more likely it is we will not win. So with that in mind……..
Today we welcome the in form Premier League team and suddenly Championship rivals Liverpool to the Emirates to contest a FA Cup 5th round match. There has been much talk about prioritisation over the last few weeks, today we get to find out whether we are going to gun for them all, or are in fact prioritising one competition over the rest.
Some say the FA Cup represents our best chance of a trophy this season, I’m not so sure, whilst it is true that we only need to win four games to do it, there are still some tricky opponents that could get in our way, and on top of that we have in our own recent memory the League Cup Final defeat to Birmingham to remind us that on any given day anything can happen in a game of football, you can also ask Manchester City fans what happened last season. Would you really have us put all our eggs in the FA Cup? I certainly wouldn’t. I am very much behind the one game at a time mentality, although I understand why we might want to rest players before the visit of Munich on Wednesday.
What do we expect from Arsenal today?
Szczesny has been playing well of late but Fabianski has done little wrong in the other cup ties this season, so he will surely start. There is little option at centre back unless we were to launch a couple of youngsters into action, against Suarez and Sturridge that would be suicidal, they have scored 60% of Liverpool’s goals this season, stop them and we have a chance of stopping Liverpool, so the centre back pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny picks itself. I would go with Jenkinson at right back to give the ageing legs of Sagna a break and Gibbs at left back.
In midfield we have the luxury of Flamini returning from a self imposed spell on the sidelines, he surely starts to make Coutinho’s life a lot harder than it was at Anfield last Saturday, he will also help us win the ball back higher up the pitch as he is more proactive than Arteta in that respect. I would however keep Arteta alongside him, a blend of experience, passing and reading of the game should make us more competitive and provide more cover for our defence.
In attacking midfield is where we will possibly see the most changes, I would go Gnabry, Rosicky and Ozil. But I would give Gnabry and Ozil instructions to stay high up the pitch, and not to worry too much about defensive duties, Rosicky will be the man in the middle, he works hardest to win the ball back high up the pitch, and injects pace in attack by speed of passing and running from deep. This can only work if Gibbs and Jenkinson do not over commit, instead they should stay home to provide cover against Liverpool’s fast counter attacks.
My front man today would be Podolski, and that is another reason I would give Ozil and Gnabry the licence to stay up the pitch, he will need help a lot quicker than Giroud when playing with his back to goal, I also think the understanding between the three German’s could be the key to unlocking Liverpool.
So my starting eleven would look something like this:
Let’s hope we are celebrating an Arsenal win come this evening, and we can put this week behind us and start looking forward to an exciting run in to the end of the season.
Gooner In Exile